Workplace discrimination claims trouble employers

The statistics are in from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: California ranks high among the states for the number of discrimination complaint filings in 2012.

With almost 7,400 total allegations of employment discrimination within its borders, California's total came in behind only Texas and Florida. The EEOC logged 8,929 complaints from Texas and 7,940 from Florida.

Types of employment discrimination

The EEOC receives complaints from employees who claim to have experienced illegal employment discrimination based on features such as an employee's race, sex, national origin, color, age, disability or religion. It is illegal for employers to retaliate against any worker who complains of discrimination.

In most of the individual categories of discrimination, California was in third place among the states. For example, Georgia and Texas were the only two states with a higher number of race discrimination claims filed with the EEOC; and Florida and Texas were the states whose sex discrimination claims exceeded California's.

California's employment discrimination figures especially stand out in one particular area. About one in nine of all the religious discrimination claims filed in the United States and its territories came from California.

Retaliation based on discrimination claims

While employees can allege discrimination on so many different fronts, retaliation is the reason for the most workplace discrimination claims received by the EEOC in the nation as a whole.

Employers in California, workers told the EEOC, were responsible for 3,406 instances of retaliation against employees who complained about discrimination. That's 46 percent of all California discrimination complaints to the EEOC.

Retaliation based on other claims

Employers in California must tread carefully in taking action toward employees who say they are victims of discrimination. Besides concern about retaliation against these employees, California is also concerned about employers who retaliate against employees who file workers' compensation claims due to injury or illness.

A part of California law, Labor Code Section 132a, expressly forbids employers from punishing or discriminating against employees in any way because the employees apply for workers' compensation.

Resolving discrimination claims

When an employer is accused of violating federal law in a claim to the EEOC, the EEOC offers a mediation program designed to improve the employment relationship. Other strategies parties can voluntarily use to resolve complaints are settlement and conciliation.

In the case of discrimination claims in California covered by Section 132a, a careful investigation is needed to determine a fair outcome. Employers should be sure to comply completely with the law. These claims can be complicated, and any California employer who has been accused of violating Section 132a needs a dedicated advocate, in the form of an experienced California workers' compensation defense attorney.

Attorneys who specialize in representing employers in workers' compensation cases have the experience and know-how to investigate the facts thoroughly and guide employers through the claim process.